THINGS FALL APART; THE CENTRE CANNOT HOLD
27 OCTOBER - 24 NOVEMBER 2022
Brigade is proud to present the solo exhibition ‘Things Fall Apart; The Centre Cannot Hold’ by contemporary artist Albert Grøndahl (b. 1985, Denmark). This is Grøndahl’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.
Grøndahl’s work vibrates within multiple temporalities involving the past, its decay, and the encounter with its traces. It refers to ruination, to the materiality of being, to an order of ephemerality by which we are partially constituted. It deals with the gaps between things, the dirt trapped between floor tiles. The results of slow processes of life and death, chaos and construction.
Nowhere is this more present than in Grøndahl’s ongoing exploration of the enclosed garden, the hortus conclusus, as a conceptual, symbolic, and architectural form. Uniting within itself an assemblage of disparate aspects, the enclosed garden seeks to understand the landscape it denies, explain the world it excludes, and bring in the nature it fears.
Holding utopian promises of nature’s power to tame the brutality of the mundane, the monastery gardens sequester themselves from the outside world, creating havens with capacities for rehabilitation and reflexivity, for otium. Taking the gardens of the Middle Ages as repositories of memory and meaning, Grøndahl mines the hortus conclusus as a marker of possible encounters: between past and present; between freedom and constraint; between inner and outer states.
The resulting motifs bear witness to the abrasions of time, encapsulating experiences of fragmentary remains and persistent memories. Abandoning ordinary printing techniques in favour of a return to the original chemistry of the analogue photograph, Grøndahl’s unique silver and gold emulsions and cyanotypes urge the medium towards a singular, non-reproducible surface. These works conjure distant worlds of light and dust, connections through time and space where motif and material originated. Through interpretative gestures and fleeting traces of touch, the artist retains energies and textures of interpretation and disruption. Within Grøndahl’s frame of reference, the timeless is not an unbounded infinity, but a convoluted time, a folding of the universal and singular experience.
Grøndahl’s research-driven approach understands personal archive and classification as a dynamic set of relations, unpacking and deconstructing narratives, processes of memorialization, and witnessing as a way of recontextualizing the fragmented past. The exhibition traces connections between Grøndahl’s earlier investigations into the garden’s therapeutic capacities within psychiatric contexts, undertaken both during several residencies at the Danish Institute in Rome as well as through the publication ‘A City Behind the Forest’ (2021, Witty Books) which centred on the inner and outer realities of the now demolished Aarhus Psychiatric Hospital (1852 – 2018).
Grøndahl is currently constructing an enclosed garden within the expanded Museum Ovartaci, which houses a collection of artworks by patients from Aarhus Psychiatric Hospital. Opening in the spring of 2023, the garden forms a new collaboration between Grøndahl, the museum and patients within the psychiatric environment in Aarhus, who will be both primary users and caretakers of the garden, forming a both social and therapeutic space. In keeping with Grøndahl’s practice, ‘Things Fall Apart; The Centre Cannot Hold’ forms part of a whole and not an instance of time and experience entirely of its own.